Discussion:
Igor Levit’s Beethoven Piano Sonatas
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steve
2020-06-07 03:36:05 UTC
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I have 2 complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas (Brendel the last set, & Buchbinder). I also have individual sonatas from Pollini, R Serkin, Peter Serkin, Ashkenazy & a few others. I thought it might be interesting to have a set from the younger generation. I’m a big fan of Igor Levit & was considering getting his set. Not that long ago I saw it on Amazon at a very reasonable price but now it appears to be gone or expensive. I could just get the late sonatas and the Diabelli variations. Thoughts?

How does the Levit set compare with Jonathan Biss?

Steve
Bozo
2020-06-07 14:32:05 UTC
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Post by steve
I could just get the late sonatas and the Diabelli variations. Thoughts?
I have neither Biss nor Levit recordings, but have heard both. Levit is a definite and the late sonatas a good place to start with him. Would suggest Levit before Biss.
JohnGavin
2020-06-07 15:29:48 UTC
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I surveyed the entire Levit cycle. Though it was uniformly wonderful. Youthful playing in the best sense. Energetic, light fingered - especially in the early Sonatas. Highly inspired playing. He will play them differently in 20 years, and I’m sure those will be excellent in a different way.
Néstor Castiglione
2020-06-08 00:10:45 UTC
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A lot of friends and acquaintances dislike Levit, but I find him compelling. There's a restlessness in his performances; a feeling of exhaustively contemplating and searching the possibilities of Beethoven's sonatas, their implications. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But his willingness to grab Beethoven's music (and the listener along with him) and argue, roar, and swoon over it is the kind of risk-taking I like hearing in this repertoire. Young performers often sound so meek, timid, boring really. Levit's interpretive gambles, on the other hand, demand one's attention (and occasional argument).

Biss is quite fine. Serene, poised. The difference between him and Levit is that the former are performances of ideas encoded on paper; the latter a palimpsest in sound of ambitions, hopes, frustrations. Both pianists leave nothing to be desired technically, though I have a preference for Levit's big, oaken sonority.
Post by steve
I have 2 complete cycles of the Beethoven piano sonatas (Brendel the last set, & Buchbinder). I also have individual sonatas from Pollini, R Serkin, Peter Serkin, Ashkenazy & a few others. I thought it might be interesting to have a set from the younger generation. I’m a big fan of Igor Levit & was considering getting his set. Not that long ago I saw it on Amazon at a very reasonable price but now it appears to be gone or expensive. I could just get the late sonatas and the Diabelli variations. Thoughts?
How does the Levit set compare with Jonathan Biss?
Steve
Ricardo Jimenez
2020-06-08 00:45:32 UTC
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On Sun, 7 Jun 2020 17:10:45 -0700 (PDT), Néstor Castiglione
Post by Néstor Castiglione
A lot of friends and acquaintances dislike Levit, but I find him compelling. There's a restlessness in his performances; a feeling of exhaustively contemplating and searching the possibilities of Beethoven's sonatas, their implications. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But his willingness to grab Beethoven's music (and the listener along with him) and argue, roar, and swoon over it is the kind of risk-taking I like hearing in this repertoire. Young performers often sound so meek, timid, boring really. Levit's interpretive gambles, on the other hand, demand one's attention (and occasional argument).
Biss is quite fine. Serene, poised. The difference between him and Levit is that the former are performances of ideas encoded on paper; the latter a palimpsest in sound of ambitions, hopes, frustrations. Both pianists leave nothing to be desired technically, though I have a preference for Levit's big, oaken sonority.
There maybe as many as 100 complete sets of the sonatas available to
listen to on Spotify including the 2 you mention and a new one coming
out every month of so. I feel no compunction to listen to any more
than once. In fact I have been delaying listening to some that are
still on my playlist. It is definitely possible to tire of Beethoven
altogether.
Néstor Castiglione
2020-06-08 00:59:56 UTC
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It’s also just as possible to never tire of Beethoven, so long as one hears performances that in and of themselves don’t tire one’s patience. Then again, my curiosity to hear new Beethoven recordings may be the manifestation of some deeply buried masochistic streak on my part. Who knows?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
On Sun, 7 Jun 2020 17:10:45 -0700 (PDT), Néstor Castiglione
Post by Néstor Castiglione
A lot of friends and acquaintances dislike Levit, but I find him compelling. There's a restlessness in his performances; a feeling of exhaustively contemplating and searching the possibilities of Beethoven's sonatas, their implications. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But his willingness to grab Beethoven's music (and the listener along with him) and argue, roar, and swoon over it is the kind of risk-taking I like hearing in this repertoire. Young performers often sound so meek, timid, boring really. Levit's interpretive gambles, on the other hand, demand one's attention (and occasional argument).
Biss is quite fine. Serene, poised. The difference between him and Levit is that the former are performances of ideas encoded on paper; the latter a palimpsest in sound of ambitions, hopes, frustrations. Both pianists leave nothing to be desired technically, though I have a preference for Levit's big, oaken sonority.
There maybe as many as 100 complete sets of the sonatas available to
listen to on Spotify including the 2 you mention and a new one coming
out every month of so. I feel no compunction to listen to any more
than once. In fact I have been delaying listening to some that are
still on my playlist. It is definitely possible to tire of Beethoven
altogether.
Raymond Hall
2020-06-08 03:28:16 UTC
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Post by Néstor Castiglione
It’s also just as possible to never tire of Beethoven, so long as one hears performances that in and of themselves don’t tire one’s patience. Then again, my curiosity to hear new Beethoven recordings may be the manifestation of some deeply buried masochistic streak on my part. Who knows?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
There maybe as many as 100 complete sets of the sonatas available to
listen to on Spotify including the 2 you mention and a new one coming
out every month of so. I feel no compunction to listen to any more
than once. In fact I have been delaying listening to some that are
still on my playlist. It is definitely possible to tire of Beethoven
altogether.
Strangely, as someone with a large collection of classical, I still don't have a Beethoven piano sonata set, so I have a different problem. I love his late sonatas (a bit like Thelonius Monk in some ways), spare, angular, but very probing, and Brendel, Uchida, Kovacevich are in my collection.

I am watching a lot of Andras Schiff's masterclasses on YouTube, which is beginning to open my eyes to a lot of the romantic piano repertoire.

I've always preferred LvB's violin and cello sonatas to be really honest, and of course his string quartets.

Ray Hall, Taree
Tom Martin
2021-10-07 16:44:57 UTC
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Post by Raymond Hall
Post by Néstor Castiglione
It’s also just as possible to never tire of Beethoven, so long as one hears performances that in and of themselves don’t tire one’s patience. Then again, my curiosity to hear new Beethoven recordings may be the manifestation of some deeply buried masochistic streak on my part. Who knows?
Post by Ricardo Jimenez
There maybe as many as 100 complete sets of the sonatas available to
listen to on Spotify including the 2 you mention and a new one coming
out every month of so. I feel no compunction to listen to any more
than once. In fact I have been delaying listening to some that are
still on my playlist. It is definitely possible to tire of Beethoven
altogether.
Strangely, as someone with a large collection of classical, I still don't have a Beethoven piano sonata set, so I have a different problem. I love his late sonatas (a bit like Thelonius Monk in some ways), spare, angular, but very probing, and Brendel, Uchida, Kovacevich are in my collection.
I am watching a lot of Andras Schiff's masterclasses on YouTube, which is beginning to open my eyes to a lot of the romantic piano repertoire.
I've always preferred LvB's violin and cello sonatas to be really honest, and of course his string quartets.
Ray Hall, Taree
I never tire of Beethoven or Bach. Maybe after I die.

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